15/10/2014 16:39 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

James Norton Talks Growing Up, His Acting Heroes And Vintage Clothes

James Norton is a name to know. The 29-year-old English actor, who played Tommy Lee Royce in the BBC crime drama Happy Valley, has been praised for his roles on stage, film and television - and he just so happens to appreciate a good suit.


In an interview with Marks & Spencer's Style and Living magazine, Norton opened up about his early acting career, who he'd most like to work with and his taste in fashion.

"I had the acting bug from a very early age," he told M&S. "I remember when I had friends over, they would all be desperate to play football or cricket and I would always insist on making an annoying little piece of theatre; write it, direct it and star in it. I think they got fed up in the end and went to play at my other friends' houses."

His acting career got off to an excellent start. After studying theology at Cambridge, James secured a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

When I got into drama school, that's when I knew that I could safely say that I wanted to be a professional actor. And I think that's one of the most important things about studying drama at an institution, you go, 'I am now a professional.' I can say that to people and I don't care if they're condescending because I know that this is my life and this is what I've dedicated those three years to.


One of his first major stage roles was Posthumus in a production of Cymbeline directed by Trevor Nunn.

"I played Posthumus and my girlfriend at the time played Imogen, so we were the romantic duo," he said. And I remember Trevor coming up to us saying, 'Darlings, there is just no chemistry, there's nothing here!' And we were like, 'But, Trevor, we've been together for four years...' so that was quite painful. An amazing experience, though."

Film roles in An Ecucation and Rush soon followed but more recently, James has been lauded for his parts in Happy Valley and the ITV series Grantchester.

"I'm waiting for that duff job or the diva-ish cast or aggressive director!" he told M&S - but he's hoping he'll get to work with a few acting greats first. Steve McQueen, Eddie Marsan and Olivia Coleman are all on James' wish list.


And when he's not busy reading a script? James likes go back to his Yorkshire roots and enjoy the great outdoors.

"If it's a sunny day, I get this weird guilt if I'm not making the most of it, so I'll walk or go for a swim or get on my bike, or I'll go to the Heath, just have a reason to get out," he revealed.

His other interest might come as a surprise.

For a long time I had a vintage stall, where I sold men's vintage clothing, and my girlfriend was convinced it was just to do with a problem I had where I just couldn't stop buying senseless clothes, even if they didn't fit me.

A few years later and James' vintage finds are up for grabs.

"After a long time in storage, my mens vintage clothing stock is now being sold in a new vintage shop in south London," he said.

He describes his style as "classic" - jumpers, shirts, blazers and brogues are his wardrobe staples - and there's one shop he can't live without.

"I do love M&S. All my underwear is M&S."

Perhaps it's time James added 'style icon' to jam-packed CV, too.